Ukraine is in turmoil since its president Viktor Yanukovych backed away from signing an association agreement negotiated for years with the European Union that would have deepened economy ties with the West. Hundreds of thousands of protesters are occupying the Independence Square in Kiev and blocking some official buildings defying the icy weather.
Part of the opposition is demanding that Yanukovych fires the government and appoints a new one committed to deepening European integration. But the president is not likely to change its decision. In the middle of the crisis, with the people camping on the streets of Kiev, he traveled to Sochi to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin who wants Ukraine in a customs union also including Belarus and Kazakhstan that would be a counterweight to the EU. There were rumors he was going to sign the agreement for the customs union during that trip, but the Government denied it and said that they only negotiated about the gas’ price.
The huge demonstrations against the president and his government can remind of the Orange Revolution back in 2004. But this time things are very different. People are in the streets asking for a change but without clear leaders for replacement. And the opposition leaders are sending contradictory messages, some of them asking for the ousting of Yanukovych, some asking for negotiations with the president and a change only in the government. The Orange Revolution was a domestic conflict as a result of an election manipulated. Here we are facing a situation that has international repercussions: Ukraine place in Europe at EU side or at the Russian side.
It’s clear that a lot of Ukrainians are not happy with the last moment change of opinion of its president referring to the EU. They are against the Russian customs union. They need answers. In what way? A popular vote in a referendum? Snap elections? Or nothing and wait to see if the protestors get tired and desist? Meanwhile Ukranian social and economic situation continues worsening.